Long before Wolf Wilderness and The RainForest, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo's "hot" attraction was Monkey Island. Now, more than sixty years after its debut and a couple face-lifts later, Monkey Island is looking better than ever. The island and moat were recently reshaped and resurfaced to better simulate an African habitat.
Few improvements to the Zoo were made during the Depression until the Cuyahoga County Relief Administration chose to work on upgrading the Zoo by constructing Monkey Island. The Cleveland Press and the Plain Dealer both supported those plans to improve the Zoo. The Press assigned a reporter to visit zoos from Chicago to Washington and write a series of articles on the value of zoological parks to the public. After Monkey Island was completed in 1934, the May Company donated 150 monkeys for display.
However, modern zoo animal care standards are quite different. Instead of placing as many monkeys on display as possible, Monkey Island now has an interesting combination of animals co-existing in the exhibit. Featured are the dramatically marked black and white colobus monkeys.
Currently, the Zoo has seven colobus monkeys (Colobus guereza kikuyensis). Colobus monkeys are native to the forests of East Africa. They are proficient aerialists, using established pathways through the treetops. The leaf eating monkeys live in troops and have a lifespan of more than twenty years.